American Apparel seems mainly to be recognized for it’s best and worst qualities, and not a whole lot in between. It is sweatshop free and provides plenty of employment opportunities with fair pay. Aside from their decent motives and sleek style, vast amounts of people are strictly opposed to their provocative and controversial advertisements.
This image is particularly striking because of the sexual connotation of the model’s position in conjunction with the ad’s slogan, “Now Open”. One could view this picture as clever and an interesting use of the play on words—it most definitely attracts your attention from the get go.
What you actually see (the signified) is quite different from the message received (the signifier). A girl whose legs are spread wide open in an attempt to get your attention is striking, but many would find it offensive and degrading to women. I, a woman, am not an overly avid feminist. Of course, I believe that we deserve our equal rights and we’re not objects to be sexualised (etc. etc.), however in a creative attempt to grab your attention and force you to take note of what the advertisement is actually trying to say, American Apparel was quite successful.
So, while the “leg spread” takes up majority of the image and does more talking than the words themselves, nothing too physically confronting is on display. It is rather the connotations and the message implied with the title that might label this ad as “controversial”.
Since American Apparel has been blamed for posting too sexually confronting advertisements for a while now, the effect of this image isn’t as strong. If a company that constantly produces slogans and ads within society’s comfort zones were to break out and shock us with something particularly sexual, it could have a whole new meaning and effect.